Hidden Child

Isaac Millman, Author . FSG/Foster $18 (80p) ISBN 978-0-374-33071-2

Millman (the Moses series) here tells his own story: during the Nazi occupation of France, he was a hidden child. Millman is the surname of the American family that adopted the author/artist after the war; growing up in Paris, he was Isaac Sztrymfman, the only son of doting Polish Jewish immigrants. Playing pretend battleships with his best friend "was as close as war came to us then. It was a game." When Isaac was seven, Germany invaded France and Papa was arrested. Two years later, the boy and his mother were imprisoned after a thwarted escape attempt. But Mama succeeded in bribing a guard to save Isaac from deportation (she, along with Isaac's father, perished at Auschwitz), setting off a chain of events that led him to a remarkable protector named Héna. Millman's unadorned but carefully detailed writing is beautifully pitched for a middle school audience. The most heart-wrenching moments—a final glimpse of Papa waving through the barbed wire of the internment camp, Mama's tears on Isaac's cheeks as she hands him to the bribed guard, Héna's whispered confidence, "I'm a Jew, too," when she discovers an abandoned Isaac sobbing in front the building that was once his home—are bearable, but barely so. Millman intersperses the text with archival photographs and his own mural-like watercolor montages of the events, as if to demonstrate that history is made up of two currents—those things that can be documented, and those that become the underpinnings of memories, pain, longing and resilience. An extraordinary book and a moving tribute to those who vanished. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 11/21/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
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